10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden

KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 25, 2019 08:54

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden

Just the thought of bugs can cause some people to start squirming. But, not all bugs are the enemy, especially when it comes to gardens. There are a few, even some of the creepy ones, that are beneficial to our outside environment. From pollinating our crops, to eliminating the destructive pests, bugs can be of some very real help in maintaining a healthy garden.

Sure, there is a difference between a bug and an insect, and even arthropods. But, for the sake of this article, I will be referring to all of them as bugs, just to keep it simple.

Not all regions will necessarily have all of the bugs on this list. Even if they are found in your particular region, you might not ever spot them on the ground, in the air, or on your plants. They want to cohabitate with us humans probably less than we are wanting to with them. So, they will do their best to go unnoticed.

But, which bugs are helpful and deserve to be left alone to do their job helping with our gardens? The following list consists of some of the more popular.

#1. Praying Mantis

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your GardenPerhaps the largest on this list, making it one that would be more noticeable, is the praying mantis. With its large and triangular head, prolonged body, and bulging eyes, these are more identifiable than some of the others on this list.  The body conceals their wings, and the long forelegs are great for catching their prey.

And, their prey just happens to be various destructive bugs to our gardens.

#2. Spider

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden spiderAdmittedly, I have come a long way since the days of throwing a shoe from across the room to kill a spider. I still don’t like them, nor want to get close to them. But, I don’t fear them like I used to in the past.

Part of that is because I know they are good for killing other bugs that are detrimental to our plants and gardens. The web they weave help to trap the bugs they like to eat, which are enemies to the crops. Sure, some spiders can be harmful to us humans. But, the spiders typically found in gardens are harmless to us, and helpful to our produce.

Related: DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works!

#3. Ladybug

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden ladybugKnown by other names, such as Lady Beetle and Lady Bird, the ladybug is a natural consumer of mites, aphids, and the eggs of other soft-bodied bugs. They are not only cute, but they are also helpful in maintaining a healthy garden.

In fact, some gardeners have been known to purchase them in bulk just to add them to their garden.

#4. Ground Beetle

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden ground beetle

Ground beetles can fly, but they seldom do.

They come out at night and go for bugs that attach to and feed off your garden treasures. You can often find them under old leaves and debri piles, or other darkly covered areas, such as a compost pile.

Even though they look like they could hurt you with their menacing appearance, they won’t. It’s best to leave them to do their work in the garden.

#5. Dragonfly

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden Dragonfly

Next time you see a dragonfly, know they are helping with flying pests, such as mosquitoes, moths, flies, fruit flies, white flies, and even their larvae.

They might seem intimidating, but they are not.

Well, unless you are a mosquito.

Related: Plants You Should Grow Around Your House To Repel Insects And Bugs (Including Termites)

#6. Butterfly

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden butterflyChances are you wouldn’t even think of a butterfly as something you don’t want around. And, that’s a good thing.

Their mesmerizing appearance as they can be seen fluttering through the gardens, are more beneficial than simply their beauty.

They feed on the nectar of flowers, carrying pollen to help fertilize newer seeds and plants, while encouraging plant growth.

#7. Braconid Wasp

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden Braconid Wasp

Wasp, hornets, and other stinging pests that fly around can make many people quite nervous. I know, because I’m one of them. However, I recently learned that the braconid wasp is harmful to the hornworm.

Yes, the same hornworm that loves to attack tomato plants. The braconid wasp lays its eggs on the worm, just under the skin. When the eggs hatch, the larvae has a feast on the hornworm, then spins a cocoon on the hornworm which suffocates it, saving your tomatoes.

#8. Bee

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden beeIn addition to the rich honey some of us enjoy, bees also play an important role in a plant’s life cycle and growth.

Known as one of the top pollinators, they get a bad rap due to other stinging pests. Normally, they will not bother you at all, unless they feel you are attacking them. So, don’t. Let them do their job in peace.

Related: How to Start a Beehive

#9. Lacewing

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden lacewing

Lacewings can be a very helpful bug, as they are the biggest attacker of whiteflies and bad aphids, in both their larvae and adult stages.

The female lacewing will lay her eggs within the whiteflies and aphid larvae. They then begin to devour them, quite aggressively.

However, ants are aphid-friendly and will try to eat lacewings eggs. In other words, ants are not friendly to your garden.

#10. Aphid Midge

10 Bugs You Should Never Kill In Your Garden aphid midgeThe aphid midge is the tiniest of the fly species. But, they throw quite a punch in helping control about 60 various aphid species by devouring them. In fact, they will rid your garden of destructive aphids faster than both the lacewing and ladybug.

Introducing the bugs listed above is a great way to manage the destructive bug population that wants to take over your garden. At the very least, if you find them wandering around among your plants, it’s best to leave them alone.

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KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 25, 2019 08:54
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25 Comments

  1. Raven tactical June 25, 11:02

    I’ll kill wasps

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    • Mitzi Hammond Perkins June 25, 17:58

      With the devastation of bee populations, plants will have to depend on wasps and, believe it or not, mosquitoes to pollinate.

      Reply to this comment
    • XYLA June 25, 18:49

      People kill what they fear and in most cases they fear what they don’t understand. Not all wasps are bad. Take some time to educate yourself instead of just acting like a naive killer. For instance, many people hate spiders including my husband. Well the mud dauber which builds mud huts on the exterior of your home catches spiders paralyzes them and packs them into the mud huts for the young to eat when they are born. While they still can sting they are not an aggressive species. Now my husband feels like they are his protection 🙂 Did you also know that male carpenter bees (all black) do not have a stinger, just an extra tidbit

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck June 25, 19:45

      Kinda like the guy who killed every snake he saw around his farm and then wondered why his farm was overrun with mice and rats.

      With some very rare exceptions, most wild critters will leave you alone if you leave them alone. There are some insects that feed on humans but wasps are not in that category.

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    • Kurmudgeon June 25, 21:53

      We have paper wasps in our area. We’ve seen them devour cabbage loopers and horn worms – pretty fascinating to watch. So, no, best not to kill them.

      Reply to this comment
  2. pinetree June 25, 17:07

    ladybug if you live out in the country you would not like them in the fall you have stay in side can do no yard work out law the pest pest pest.

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    • dillet June 25, 20:55

      Ladybugs just need a place to hibernate over the winter. Perhaps you can relocate them, or plug the entrances to your home, because if you live in the country you NEED them! Ladybugs eat the aphids that suck the life juices out of crops and other plants! Killing them is a big mistake!

      Reply to this comment
    • Grammyprepper June 26, 06:25

      @pinetree, you are likely confusing the lady bug with asian beetles which show up in the fall and look much like lady bugs. Asian beetles are actually more orange colored, and if I am not mistaken, there is a difference in their spots. Asian beetles also tend to swarm, which lady bugs do not (at least in my experience). We deal with the Asian beetles every fall, gosh they get into everything. When we camped full time, we had to clean them up daily. True lady bugs are extremely beneficial in the garden.

      Reply to this comment
    • Dinie June 26, 18:02

      Where I live we are infested with Asian lady beetles that look similar to ladybugs but they eat crops. Its frustrating trying to tell them apart and nothing eats them.

      Reply to this comment
  3. pinetree June 25, 17:15

    ladybug’s no good if you like the out side in fall + thy get in your house I think need out law them.

    Reply to this comment
    • Cooltruth June 25, 19:56

      They are beneficial to gardens, eating bugs that would damage your food supply. Sometimes they’d come in my house too where they’d usually die. So many that I think neighbor bought them for her garden!

      Reply to this comment
  4. SHAKER June 25, 19:59

    Those are not lady bugs. Take a closer look. They are more than likely a Chinese species introduced by our lovely Gov. The ones we have issues with in the spring (in Fairyland) and fall are more of orange or tanish and black. Not a lady bug!!!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Kurmudgeon June 25, 22:09

    Lady bugs in the nymph stage consume more aphids than the adults. They look rather alien and may not be recognizable to some gardeners. Definitely we don’t want to kill these.

    Reply to this comment
  6. David Bradford June 25, 23:17

    I can safely say that I have not intentionally harmed a spider in 50 years. I was one of those weird bug nut kids and collected spider and mantis eggs cases and kept them in ball jars and screen boxes just to watch them hatch.out. I’m also a big fan of dragon and damsel flies, anything to keep the mosquitoes in check. That goes for purple martens, tree swifts and bats too.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kurmudgeon June 26, 20:50

      Good on you, sir. Same here. Some years ago when we first moved in, before we replaced our substandard windows and doors, spiders used to routinely get inside. One day I saw a dead cricket suddenly get hoisted into the air. Turned out to be a black widow perched on top of the screen door reeling in her lunch. Took her outside and let her go.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Ivy Mike June 25, 23:36

    I love growing tomatoes, but I also love the various horn worms that devastate them because they turn into beautiful moths. So I’m always trying to balance the equation and get moths and tomatoes both in adequate numbers.
    The only bugs I ever spray are the orange aphids that get on my Asclepias mexicana, I just obliterated (like Trump!) a bunch of them with soap spray.
    Couple years ago there was a yellow jacket nest under the hood of my old riding mower I park out by the garden. I’d start it up and the wasps would fly out, then I’d mow for an hour, park in the same place, and the wasps would fly back to their nest. How can you not love all the critters?

    Reply to this comment
  8. Grammyprepper June 26, 06:36

    So I know y’all will get a kick out of this one, and it’s totally on topic. I have long hair. I’m sitting here,reading my email. and ‘something’ all of a sudden is flitting at my neck, stuck in my hair. Took a hot second, but all of a sudden a lightning bug is sitting on the rug, stunned. I’m devastated! I picked it up and took it outside, the whole time apologizing if I hurt it. DH wakes up and wonders who I was outside talking to, took my explanation in stride. I have to be careful with wasps and yellow jackets d/t allergies, but honeybees and bumblebees have never hurt me. Spiders, well, I do my best to avoid them. I don’t like them. Wolf spiders in my house get dispatched. Daddy longlegs are fine. in the garden, I just try not to disturb them unless they are in my way.

    Reply to this comment
    • Black Swan June 26, 13:03

      I never kill lightning bugs either, but I sometimes watch their nightly show outside at this time of year. I’ve read on the Internet, so it must be true 🙂 that they don’t bite, and their larvae are beneficial because they feed on other insect larvae, and also snails and slugs.

      I even carefully removed the ones flying around our living room the day our daughter, then 4 or 5, brought several of them inside one evening and then turned off all the lights to watch them light up. I had been upstairs, and came down before she could bring another batch in–I knew she’d been way too quiet for the last few minutes!

      She is now married with a 4-year-old daughter who loves all things in nature–plants, animals, and even creepy-crawlies. I am going to laugh hard if “what goes around, comes around”!

      Reply to this comment
    • Kurmudgeon June 26, 22:43

      I love wolf spiders. Sorry to hear you’re killing them. Sounds like you may be dealing with irrational fear. These handsome little fellows can’t hurt you.

      Reply to this comment
      • IvyMike June 28, 00:22

        I use no pesticides indoors, we’ve never had roaches or fleas, but every once in a while I look up to see one of the cats chasing a wolf spider around the house. That is a fast critter when they stand up and run! I catch them in a tumbler and throw them out in the garden with my best wishes.

        Reply to this comment
  9. Stumps June 26, 14:50

    I now leave a four-foot swath of grass by my fences un-mowed for the lighting bugs.

    Reply to this comment
  10. tony June 26, 21:30

    I never kill wasps. They eat things I don’t want around. If you leave them alone and don’t threaten or molest them they treat you like a part of the scenery and pretty much ignore you. There are always a couple nests in the shed and the wasps often bump into me while coming and going, never get stung.

    Reply to this comment
    • Raven tactical June 26, 22:46

      I kill them they harm bees And my family

      Reply to this comment
      • tony June 28, 14:40

        But the common paper wasp doesn’t eat bees. They hunt small prey like insect larva such as small caterpillars and small grubs and flies that get fed to the growing wasp larva in their nests. The adult paper wasps themselves are plant eaters, or rather nectar sippers. Yeah, I’ve collected a bit of data on paper wasps along the way. 🙂 As a kid I had a keen interest in paper wasps and how they do what they do. They are remarkable insects. Again, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

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